It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts. Events that happen in everyone’s life like embarrassing moments, mistakes at work, self-doubt, and so on, leave a mark on how we think and feel.
Not to mention, from the constant use of social media, we’re exposed to the Fear of Missing Out, negative news, and more. So much so that studies have found that as many as 39% of people say they feel envy from seeing online content.
And when we continue to use online media and feel certain things over a long period of time, we start to develop patterns of negative thinking that become beliefs about who we are.
It can be hard to change such feelings but it’s totally possible to do so. The key lies in using journaling to challenge your thought patterns and to create a different narrative about yourself. Today, I’m sharing a few ways you can use journal prompts to change your thinking.
Journal prompts to change how you think
These journal prompts are designed to help you find a space for self-exploration and reflection. Whether you’re going through a challenging moment or addressing long-term habits you want to overcome, these prompts can be used as a guide to address beliefs that you take for granted.
Create an emotional flow map
One of the most interesting types of journal prompts is an emotional flow map. It consists of five columns:
- How you feel
- What you think
- What other people think
- Need for action and
- The remedy
Draw five columns side by side with these prompts as headings. Then think of a scenario where you experience strong but unhelpful thoughts. It can be around a relationship, dealing with a negative review for your business, or something else.
Then start filling in the columns. For example, let’s address getting a negative review at work or for your business.
You will likely feel unhappy and experience self-doubt. Your thoughts may say ‘I’m not capable of this job’.
The prompt ‘what other people think’ will help you get a third-person view of the situation. Frame it from the perspective of a business leader you know, a mentor, or a friend, they may say ‘Oh, it’s a temporary issue. You can reach out to your boss or customer and work things out’.
And finally, in the remedy section, you can come up with an action plan to address the issue.
Ask questions to yourself
We often ‘live’ our thoughts and feelings instead of seeing them as fleeting experiences. As a result, we end up identifying with our thoughts instead of letting them pass.
The ability to see our thoughts or be aware of our awareness is called metacognition. And this journal prompt is a powerful way to really see yourself as separate from what you think.
Here’s how you do it:
- Start by asking questions as you would do a friend you’re meeting. For example ‘How are you?’ or ‘How was your day?’
- The answer these questions as if it was another person speaking to you
- Continue this back and forth conversation by bringing up more challenging questions and events from your day or life
It’s important to keep writing like this for a while. At some point, it’ll become quite clear to you that your thoughts and feelings are not exactly who you are on the whole. And this perspective can help you gain separation from unhelpful beliefs. With some practice, you may be able to think more positively, overcome unhelpful habits, and create space from which you can explore your creative side.
Journaling is a great way to get your thoughts out and relieve daily stresses. It can be as simple as writing about your day or as detailed as you want it to be.
Another prompt you can use to change your thinking is to write about what you’re grateful for in life. And use freewriting as a way to express yourself and uncover deeper thoughts that you’re not aware of.
Journaling through prompts will help you build your emotional intelligence. So, make use of the writing templates or prompts provided here, and in time, you’ll see things differently.